Kings County Coun. Emma Van Rooyen. File
Concern about discrimination in an event funded by the Municipality of Kings was raised long before the May 20 committee of the whole meeting.
During discussion around a $12,000 grant for the Apple Blossom Festival, Coun. Emma Van Rooyen raised concerns about the event’s leadership competition.
“The competition is designed to provide opportunities for networking and career building to those who enter,” Van Rooyen said following the meeting. “I think that it is discriminatory to deny these opportunities to the many people disqualified from entering based on the limiting criteria they must meet to be eligible to enter.”
She said she was concerned about leadership - or princess - applicants being discriminated against based on gender, parental status, marital status and other considerations.
Van Rooyen also raised these concerns at a budget workshop Feb. 19, when Apple Blossom Festival representatives made a presentation to councillors.
Kings County’s race relations and anti-discrimination committee has also discussed the matter. The committee is charged with the implementation of the county’s “action plan for ending racism and discrimination” in the county.
Warden Diana Brothers clarified a comment she made on the topic May 20, when she said, “the anti-discrimination committee hasn’t discussed this at length,” in a May 27 interview.
“What I meant was the committee hasn’t given any formal decision at this matter,” Brothers said. “I never meant that we never ever spoke about it at all.”
In fact, the committee discussed the topic at its last two meetings. According to the minutes, Van Rooyen asked April 7 about community groups that receive municipal funding while not having values that “align with the anti-discrimination nature of the action plan.”
The matter was also discussed May 7. According to the unapproved minutes from that session, the committee has planned two action items. One is for Van Rooyen to draft a recommendation for the committee to bring to council about communicating with the organizations it funds to “encourage them to adopt the values of inclusion and diversity.” That is expected to come to the next committee meeting.
The second action item was for Brothers to “draw on a personal relationship with Apple Blossom board president” and “offer to make a presentation about the action plan.”
Brothers, who is chairwoman of the race relations committee and was present at the meeting, said she could not confirm what had happened at the May 7 meeting until she reviewed the minutes.
“When those issues are highlighted in the minutes,” Brothers said. “It doesn’t mean that everything would be followed up on.”
However, the warden said she has reached out to the Apple Blossom board to discuss the issue after this year’s festival. “There has been a request for a meeting.”
Brothers also said she spoke with the Apple Blossom committee members after concerns about discrimination were raised at the February budget workshop.
The next meeting of the race relations and anti-discrimination committee is June 2 at 5 p.m. Council meets to give final approval to the requested funds June 3 at 6 p.m.
Who funds the festival?
“Booster Club” (Annapolis Royal, Aylesford, Berwick, Canning, Coldbrook, Digby, Hantsport, Kentville, Kingston, New Minas, Port Williams, Windsor, Wolville, Woodville) - $16,485
County of Kings grant - $12,000
Provincial marketing grant - $900
Leadership competition revenue - $3,143
Parade revenue - $12,400
Sponsors - $19,750
Publicity revenue - $790
Sanction event fees $5,694
All numbers 2013. Source: Apple Blossom Festival budget
With files from Kirk Starratt